Townsville Bulletin




OLD supercoach Wayne Bennett has fooled us all yet again.

Just like State of Origin last year when the Queensland Maroons were supposed to be no hope with “the worst team in 40 years”, yet he orchestrat­ed the most miraculous series win.

The Rabbitohs are only underdogs for Sunday’s grand final because the master of mind games has so cunningly and successful­ly kept this magnificen­t South Sydney team under the radar.

Bookies, form students, critics and experts all fell for it. This was Wayne at his best, bluffing us all.

One week before the finals the Rabbitohs were paying a ridiculous­ly good price of $10.

It followed the suspension of champion fullback Latrell

Mitchell and a loss to the Penrith Panthers in round 23.

We were all predicting a Panthers v Melbourne Storm grand final and Wayne was happy to go along with us, at least in front of the TV cameras at his press conference­s.

We all ignored the fact that since State of Origin, between rounds 18 and 25, their form was far superior to any other side in the competitio­n.

Souths won seven of their last eight games and had: A 78-point superior forand-against to Melbourne Storm. A 128-point superior forand-against to their grand final opponent Penrith. The best attack and best defence in the competitio­n. Outstandin­g defence to concede only 14 points a game, and An attacking run of 36 points a game.

Admittedly, they had a softish run home but did play four of the top eight clubs, the Roosters, Titans, Parramatta and the Panthers.

Still, even many of the Rabbitohs’ most ardent supporters had given up on them, especially when they lost Mitchell after the e sickening shot on Joey Manu.

Yet, Bennett nett has this extraao r d i n a r y ability to keep lifting his footy teams, no matter what the circumstan­ces.

He actually ctually thrives on being ng the public underdog.

The Maroons had absolutely no hope in Origin last year but somehow won.

The fact the Rabbitohs were flogged 50-nil by Melbourne Storm in round 9 and 56-12 by the Panthers two weeks later didn’t matter. Forget the historians who kept reminding us no team has ever won the premiershi­p after conceding 50 points or more in the same season as Souths have done it twice. I went back b to listen to his press conference enc yesterday after af the loss to Penrith in Dubbo.

H e apologised to the local fans, f admitted te he was “pretty “pre disappoint­ed” pointed but even smiled, smiled probably proba knowing we’d write them off as a serious premiershi­p contender. Behind the scenes Souths insiders have known Bennett has been hopeful and confident all along.

That his mood has been upbeat and optimistic all along.

They played so well at the back end of the season after Origin because Freddie Fittler and Greg Alexander chose not to pick their playmakers Adam Reynolds (inset) or Cody Walker and they stayed fresh and healthy while other stars around the competitio­n were getting fatigued.

They’ve both been outstandin­g during the finals.

It goes to show any side with Reynolds, Walker, Cameron Murray, Damien Cook, Campbell Graham, Dane Gagai, Alex Johnston, Tom Burgess and Jaydn SU’A should never have been so misjudged and so underestim­ated.

The bookies next weekend have the Panthers as raging hot $1.65 favourites. Souths are at $2.35.

Wayne will be loving it.

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 ?? ?? Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett speaks during a press conference after the NRL grand final qualifier at Suncorp Stadium.
Picture: Getty Images
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett speaks during a press conference after the NRL grand final qualifier at Suncorp Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

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